Taking Flavor and Holistic living to a Higher Level

Hello, from the mountains of Kentucky! I hope you had an adventurous and restful weekend and that your week is off to a great start. Saturday morning’s is typically time for me to catch up on housework, laundry, and also time to work in my herb garden. But, sometimes the craving for an adventure stirs within me. I love a good adventure as much as the next person! I tell my grandchildren that adventure is in the eye of the beholder and that adventures are everywhere. The mountains of Kentucky are are the perfect place for adventures. Saturday’s are typically a time of catching up on work around the house, last Saturday I felt the craving for an adventure. So, we decided to trail ride in our side by side with our family. We set off for the mountain trails to enjoy the view, recall stories, and enjoy quality family time. Who knew what kind of adventure awaited us! Remember, adventure is in the eye of the beholder! I have always loved the mountains of Kentucky. They provided countless hours of playtime for us when we were growing up. We would build forts, hike, picnic, pretend to be cowboys and Indians, and rugged pioneers surviving the elements. Sometimes, we just enjoyed sitting beneath the trees and cloud watching. Nevertheless, the mountains have always called my name.

Large rocks at the top of the mountain known as the Rat Rocks.

When we were growing up in the hills of Kentucky, we spent hours hiking to the top of the mountains behind our grandparents house. We’d walk until we arrived at the large rocks. Many days were spent enjoying a simple picnic on top of the rocks that pictured above. While we ate we would often retell the story of the man that froze to death one night when a sudden snow storm came while he was traveling. His vision was blurred by the heavy snow and he lost his way. Legend has it that the man sought shelter from the storm near one of the large rock formations. Days passed before he was found in the mountains where he had frozen to death. I’m not sure that we ever grew tired of telling stories, finding arrow heads, pretending to be pioneers, or just waking and enjoying the bounties of nature. We also loved the simple days and afternoons of sitting outside on the porch and listening to our grandparents and relatives tell the mountain stories time and time again. I miss those days and think of them often. So, enough about mountain legends! I have a new recipe that I’m super excited to share with you!

I have always loved growing, drying, and cooking with herbs. I love their smell, their health benefits, and their taste. I also love to make teas from my herbs, which is loaded with health benefits. I also love essential oils. Together they make a wonderful partnership! Recently I decided to become a doTERRA essential oil advocate. It only made sense to me since I have enjoyed diffusing the oils and using them for various other purposes for many years. Essential oils and herbs go hand in hand and are both all natural and healthy. I like to refer to them as God’s blessings. I recently learned that some of the doTERRA oils also offer even more health benefits than topical and diffusion benefits. I learned about their internal health benefits, and also that many of them can be used to flavor some of our favorite dishes. This all intrigued me as I have enjoyed a more holistic way of life with plant-based cleaning products, laundry detergent, and through following a plant-based diet for nearly four years. I edged my way forward from clean eating, to vegetarian, and from vegetarian, to vegan. The rewards and health benefits of a holistic lifestyle are amazing! So discovering even more natural health benefits of essential oils… I was all in!

Enjoying the benefits of diffusing essential oils.

Some of you may have tried the wild orange orange essential oil. It is one of my favorite oils to diffuse in the house late evenings. It smells amazing and provides a calming and relaxing atmosphere. Wild orange is also one of the many oils that can be used in sauces, teas, smoothies, and it’s also great in homemade cleaning products. A couple of drops of wild orange on wool dryer balls provides an amazing fresh scent in your laundry as it is drying. Also, two drops in a chocolate smoothie tastes absolutely amazing! After I discovered this delicious taste, I decided to add a couple of drops to my vegan chocolate protein balls. Can I say, SCORE!!! I am so anxious for you to try this recipe. If you love those cream filled bites of chocolate goodness in flavored assorted chocolates, I think you’ll love these protein balls. However, unlike chocolate candies, protein balls are healthy, vegan, and delicious!

One of my favorites oils!

Ingredients:

• 2 scoops of chocolate plant-based chocolate protein powder (I prefer orgain)

• 1 tbs of good natural smooth organic peanut butter

• 1 tsp cinnamon

• 1 tbs finely chopped walnuts

• 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (can be ground for a finer texture, but doesn’t have to be)

• 1 tsp organic ground flax seed.

• 1 tsp of organic chia seeds. (I measure with the small scoop that came with the chia seeds.)

• 1 tbs of organic agave

• 1 tbs of vegan chocolate chips

• 4 drops of doTERRA wild orange essential oil. (aromatherapy grade oils are not suggested for internal use)

Process:

Mix dry ingredients and add moist ingredients to the mixture. Mixture will be stiff, but keep working it. You may add a tsp of agave if needed to make the mixture easier to work up. Once mixture is mixed, use a small scoop or spoon and dip the desired amount into your hands. Roll the mixture into a ball and place in a dish. Continue working the mixture up until all of the mix has been used. I typically have 12–14 protein balls. Refrigerate for two hours to allow balls to set.

You can experiment and try different toppings or coatings. You may add ground coconut to the balls for an additional burst of flavor. I like them either way! I have also tried them with dates instead of peanut butter, which are delicious too, but I’m a peanut butter-aholic, plus the peanut butter gives them a bit of candy bar taste!

Store the balls in a covered container and keep refrigerated for best texture. They will last for days and days in the fridge, if you can resist eating them in larger quantities. I try to limit myself to two per day.

I rolled this batch in fine unsweetened shredded coconut for an added flavor! Yum!!!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. My grandkids love them too. They think they taste like brownies. I love that they enjoy them because this allows them to avoid added sugars and butter, which are both ingredients to traditional candies, cookies, and brownies. Feel free to leave a comment. I love hearing from my readers. If you’re interested in doTERRA oils, leave a comment with your email and I’ll be happy to send you a direct link so you can explore and begin enjoying the many benefits essential oils provide. For now, I’m off to care for my herbs before the rain comes today. From the mountains of Kentucky , God bless each of you.

Teatime Treasures

Good Morning, from the mountains of Kentucky. I hope your week has been filled with happiness, good food, family, and lots of sunshine. We’ve gone from 70 plus degree temperatures to forties within a few days and now, we’re expecting up to six inches of snow for the weekend! March weather in Kentucky is always full of surprises.

I love a good surprise! One my favorite kind of surprises comes from thrifting! When you thrift, you never know what you’ll find. I have found thrifting to be a therapeutic hobby, and a lasting tradition in our family for generations. When I grew up in the mountains of Kentucky, spending time with family was a priority. We found joy in things that we loved to do whether it was congregating for a big family dinner, attending a special church service, gathering on my Mamaw’s store porch to catch up on the events of the week, working the gardens, or thrifting at the dime store.

A Hidden Gem

I am a bit of a creature of habit. I love many of the old traditional dishes from my youth, but I also love trying new dishes. However, I find it a bit of a struggle to change a timeworn tradition. As a child it was a tradition to go to the dime store on Saturday mornings. The dime store was what we called the second hand mission store where everything cost a dime. My cousin, and I, would load up with our grandmother, great aunt, and uncle who was the designated driver. Neither my grandmother or grandfather ever learned to drive, but they never planned a trip that didn’t include a family member who enjoyed driving them. It was an exciting time as kid to hold those well earned dimes in our hands and dream of the treasures that awaited us.

As time passed thrifting wasn’t as much of an interest for us as teens. But, what most of us discovered is that the love of thrifting never completely left us, but lay dormant waiting for just the right time to surface. Since the days of our youth in the late sixties and early seventies, dime stores have grew in popularity. They’ve become the stores to find retro clothing, farmhouse decor, and much more. The prices have increased from everything being a dime to various different prices, depending on the store. But the love of searching for treasures remains the same and for many a way of carrying on a mountain tradition.

Redbird Community Store in Beverly Kentucky

Our daughter, daughter in law, and two of our granddaughters share a love for this time worn tradition. We enjoy a couple of days a month browsing vendors malls, GoodWills, estate sales, mission stores, and flea markets. There’s something about searching the shelves that are filled with dishes, glassware, odds and ends, baskets, and bins of household goodies, shelves of books, and racks of clothes, that brings an element of excitement and unity. We’ve learned that the joy lies not only within the findings, but also in the search and spending time with family.

I’m excited to begin sharing weekly treasures with you! I’ll share just a few of the treasures we found, but it would be impossible to share them all. The picture below is one of my new favorites! This absolutely gorgeous hand embroidered and crocheted table runner was definitely a score for only 1.25. Once it is washed and pressed, it will adorn the fireplace mantle in my bedroom. Based on the material and research, it appears to be an early 1950’s piece. Whoever made this treasure, really put a lot of tender loving care and obvious heart into the intricate details. It’s also in excellent condition.

A gorgeous hand crocheted and embroidered table runner.
Seven Star Vintage colander

I also found an aluminum seven star vintage colander. It didn’t look like much when I pulled it out of the bin, but after cleaning it up… it was in excellent condition. It has been housing bananas in our kitchen, and I’ll be honest, I’ve enjoyed using it as well. There’s something about the simplicity of its lightweight design that makes straining foods easy. Truly another great find that has stood the test of time. I’m not sure about the date, but I’m still researching and will update you later.

I’m truly a nerd at heart. I love to strap on my vintage apron, and cook barefoot in our kitchen while using some of my thrifting treasures. I like to imagine who’s kitchen the sifter or crock came from. I like to imagine their homes, their faces, the dishes they’ve prepared, and wonder what their lives were like and what their names may have been. I also enjoy decorating with vintage utensils, crocks, linens, and other tried and true treasures.

Thrifting is a year-round hobby, that brings joy to my heart, keeps a tradition alive, and family time well spent. We found an abundance of treasures on our last thrifting spree. I’ll share more teatime treasures next week. For now I’m going to relax with a cup of sweet and spicy hot tea and enjoy re-browsing our treasures. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

A Mountain Way of Life

Good morning from the mountains of Kentucky! It’s a beautiful and finally dry morning in the mountains. Rain has been a part of our daily forecast for most July! With rain comes growth. Growth of garden delicacies and also growth of unwanted weeds. We’ve been busier than ever pulling weeds, hoeing, and tilling. Because of our hard work and God’s grace our garden is flourishing, all except our cucumbers. We’re still picking quite a few cucumbers each day, but not as many as we should consider the amount of plants we have. But, I’ll not complain as we’re truly enjoying the harvest!

Early July Garden
Beans are ready for picking!

With the cool spring-like temperatures this morning, I took full advantage of the comfortable morning breeze. It was a perfect morning to trim and prune the herbs. Growing and harvesting fresh herbs is another mountain tradition I thoroughly enjoy. I love the smell of fresh herbs. I enjoy growing them, cooking with them, and most of all the taste of them in home-cooked meals. I also love to dry them for spices. Fresh, dried basil is so much more fragrant than store-bought basil. There’s no other sage quite like fresh sage! After the cutting and trimming, I spread the beautiful green herbs on a clean cloth and enjoy the aroma of fresh herbs in the kitchen and through most of the house for days. Once the herbs are dry, I grind, crush, and store them in empty glass jars and place them in a dark cabinet for future dishes!

Fresh cut sage
Discerning the Voice of God, a great book written by, Pricilla Shirer.

Rainy days are also a great time to sneak away from all the responsibilities that come with working from home, maintaining a home and the farm to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Simple pleasures such as snuggling up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book. There’s also something about a rainy day that inspires me to cook. I’m excited to share two new recipes I tried this weekend with you. I plan to post both recipes later this week. For now, I’ll give you a visual taste with pictures! The first picture is a new summer squash soup I created. It’s rich and full of flavor, fiber, and also very satisfying served with rice, a few croutons, or with crusty bread. The second picture is the delicious apple bread that I created this weekend. Both recipes are vegan friendly and also clean. Be sure to check back later this week for both recipes.

Summer Squash Soup
Apple bread… log in tomorrow for full recipe!

However, weekends are not complete for me without attending a church service. The fellowship is much needed in the day we live as is hearing the word. During church last night, I thought about how important it is to know God’s word, but also the importance of the knowledge of how to apply it to our own lives. During the sermon, the thoughts of my own words rang loud and clear in my mind. One concept that I teach students is reading comprehension. I remind them that recalling and summarizing is only part of comprehension. The goal of comprehension is application. That was the exact thought that I had about God’s word. It’s vital that we know the word, can recall it, but we must also know how to connect it and apply it to our lives to truly receive the full benefits from it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Monday memories for this week. Be sure to come back daily for new posts and for new recipes. I’ll be posting both the summer squash soup and the apple bread recipes later this week! For now, we’re off to the garden to pick beans! God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Seasons and Traditions in the Mountains

Happy Independence Day from the mountains of Kentucky! Independence Day in the mountains is a big deal! The sounds of fireworks can be heard ringing throughout the night sky. Family picnics are common. Trail riding, music, drag races, boating, fireworks displays are only a few of the events that are happening in the mountains to celebrate our freedom! Holidays are not the only days that are special. Each Season is full of opportunities to be had! Seasons in the mountains are each unique and each filled with blessings and wonders. Spring in the mountains is filled with vibrant blooms, lush green mountains, fishing, fields of corn and beans, majestic wildlife, trails awaiting to be blazed and familiar trails that are well worn by those who love the scenic and serene mountain rides.

Marigolds in full bloom!
A well blazed road! Great ride!

Summer mountain traditions are the best! Summers in the mountains are filled with summer fruits and vegetables, grilling, cookouts, ATV rides through the mountain trails, fishing in the rivers and lakes, family gatherings, and thrifting, which is one of my favorites. We also enjoy traditions that have been handed down generation after generation. Traditions such as cemetery church services, river baptisms, potluck dinners, horseshoe tournaments, church picnics, and homecoming services to celebrate the foundation of churches, honor our Heavenly Father, enjoy family, and the blessing of fellowship.

Reminder of hope…

The tradition of thrifting is and has been a way to find hidden treasures in the mountains of Kentucky generation after generation. When I was growing up it was known as junking. There were junk stores, thrift stores, rag sales, and dime sales to pick from or rotate. One of my favorite childhood memories was going to the junk store early Saturday mornings. My cousin and I would load up in our uncle’s old red and white pickup truck. We’d ride in the back under the old camper top, while mamaw, aunt Doshia, and Roy rode up front. We held tight to our money, which usually consisted of one dollar in silver. We knew that meant ten items…ten treasures! Those days have long gone and most items in “junk stores” today range in various prices, but still it’s always a treasure hunt, a tradition that’s carried on, and a lot fun!

Redbird Community Store

Another favorite mountain tradition is the handing off of family recipes. The tradition is to hand down a recipe that you created to another family member. That family member can tweak the recipe to fit their taste buds, palate preferences, or dietary needs. I find particular joy in cooking following a hand written recipe. My all time favorite as was our kids when they were small was my great aunt Doshia’s peanut butter fudge candy. I’ve made many platters of this unhealthy delicious treat! There’s not much modifying that can be done to make this recipe healthier, so it stays carefully tucked away in my recipe binder. I seem to find more joy in trying new recipes in the winter, but enjoy cooking year around.

Fall in the mountains is a time for bonfires, cookouts, hunting, festivals, harvesting, trail riding, and camping. The mountains in the fall are majestically beautiful and alive with brilliant oranges, yellows, reds, and hints of green still hanging on to the days of summer. People travel from far and wide year around to view our beautiful Kentucky mountains and experience the tranquility of mountain living.

Fall colors in Kentucky.
Beautiful wildlife
Church picnic 2021

Words cannot accurately describe the beauty of the snow covered mountains of Kentucky during the winter. The cold snows of winter transforms the once green mountains into white mountains of tranquility.

Light covering of snow in the mountains.

Thank you for stopping by and spending a little time with me in the mountains of Kentucky. If you feel yourself craving a road trip…I encourage you to come and experience the culture of Kentucky and the beauty the mountains! Feel free to leave a comment. I always enjoy hearing from my readers. For now, God bless and happy Independence Day from the mountains of Kentucky!

Treasures From the Mountains

The house is quiet this morning with the sounds of rain pattering softly outside my windows. There’s something about a rainy morning that inspires me to write, cook, and be creative. I have to admit, rising early to greet the day and working in the early morning hours has always been a treasured time for me. Regardless of the task at hand, morning hours always feel special to me. Somehow I feel a closeness to the time at hand, to the past, and to our Heavenly Father.

I enjoy watching the morning fog lift.

As a little girl growing up in the mountains of Kentucky, I recall waking to hear our mother up working in early morning hours. Some mornings the hum of her sewing machine let me know she was sewing. While I rubbed the sleep from my eyes I would wonder what she was making. Other mornings she would already be out in the garden hoeing, picking, or standing with her coffee cup in hand admiring the fruits of her labor. I was a morning person way back then! I loved the smell of the fresh brewed coffee, the smell of the mountain air, the feel of the dew on my bare feet, and smell of fresh plowed dirt. Even then, I knew there was no place like home in the mountains of Kentucky! There was always an adventure awaiting me… or at least I believed there to be. After all, an adventure was and still is what we make of it!

While most kids enjoyed sleeping in on the weekends and the relaxing days of summer, I enjoyed being up early listening to the sounds of my grandfather plowing behind the old mule, my mom humming as she worked, mamaw tending the store, the creek flowing over the smooth worn rocks, and my favorite thing was scavenging for hidden treasures along the creek bank, in the back yard, or buried in the barn. I loved tromping through the mountains with my side kick, who was either my sister, one of my cousins, or both.

Raindrops sparkling like diamonds…

One of our favorite places to dig for treasure was in our mamaw’s old store house that was filled with “dime store” clothes. Talk about treasure! That place was truly a treasure trove for a trio of nine and ten year old girls. Picture it! A couple of young bright eyed little girls who each had an overactive imagination digging through clothes that were either left behind or donated from another generation. Old formal prom dresses suddenly became dresses that were worn by a princess, a queen or two, but each of us were suddenly transformed into royalty. Rhinestone buttons became diamonds that were worth more money than we could imagine. Small leather handbags adorned our arms and were filled with pins, buttons, lacy hankies, odd and end jewelry, hairpins, and various other items/treasures we found among the remnants of the past!

After reflecting on fond memories of the past I feel inspired to ask this question; How do you define treasure? Treasure, is one of those words that is often used without giving much thought to its definition. It can be defined differently by each of us. Treasure is defined as much beauty… however the true definition lies within the eye or the heart of the beholder. Some people describe treasure as an object of value. While others may believe treasure to be family, memories, certain objects, special trinkets, while even still others treasure time as a treasured gift.

Regardless of how you define treasure or what you hold dear in your heart as treasure, know that time, family, friends, and memories are all treasures that we should never take for granted. Time passes all too quickly. Often times We idle our time away doing nothing when we could be spending time with family or friends making new memories. We can’t turn back time. Once time has passed… it’s gone.

Sunset in the mountains.

I encourage you today to enjoy this day that we have been blessed with. Build memories, enjoy family and friends, go search for hidden treasures that might be just below the surface of where you at this moment. Maybe treasure is within your view, but you just don’t recognize it. Above all, take time to love deeply, to forgive often, and live for this is the day the Lord has blessed you with. Today will soon pass and tomorrow will be here. What treasure(s) will you find today?

Feel free to leave a comment. I enjoy hearing from my readers. Also, feel free to follow my blog for inspired moments in the mountains, recipes, and much more. From the mountains of Kentucky… have a wonderful and blessed Tuesday!

Memories in the Mountains

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. A day to pay tribute to those who served and those who gave their lives for ours. A time to reflect and to remember how our service men and women fought for our country and for our freedom. Some of those brave warriors came home while others gave the ultimate sacrifice, their lives.

Memorial Day is a time to celebrate freedom, but also an opportunity to make memories. While we were preparing for a cookout with family and friends Saturday, I found myself reflecting on the past and thinking about the future. I thought of how quickly time passes. Yes, it is true, life is much like the comparison of vapor over water. It appears and then quickly evaporates right before our very eyes.

Today, let us pause and enjoy the blessings of life, family, friends, and our freedom. Take time from the fun of grilling, fishing, swimming, and all of the other festivities that await us on this beautiful day. Let us take time to remember and pay tribute to all of the dedicated, unselfish, and brave warriors who gave their time for our country, and for each of us.

As I reflect on our day with family and friends, my heart swells with love and gratitude for the opportunity to spend this day surrounded by laughter, good food, and those that I love. A bit of sadness stings my heart as I remember those that have passed and are no longer with us. I recall their laughter, stories, guidance, and their love. I also find myself consumed with an unwavering love, and gratitude for the one who truly gave all…our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us love deeply, cherish our freedom, life and our family, and let us never forget our soldiers and always remember our Savior.

God bless and Happy Memorial Day from the mountains of Kentucky.

In The Eye of the Storm

During my lifetime, I have encountered many changes, witnessed a few miracles, seen devastation, had my fair share of surprises, blessed to have more happy times than I can count, encountered more than enough sadness, but I have never encountered a time like our world is facing today. A friend of mine made a recent Facebook post about feeling as if she were living in a dystopian society. After considering this statement for a few minutes, and being well-read in the dystopian genre, I found myself agreeing with her.

As I set here this morning drinking coffee and counting my blessings I also began to reflect on the events that are happening in our state, across the nation, and all over the world. We have entered a time of many unanswered questions, many predictions of which some have proven to be accurate, while others remain just predictions.

This week as I was reassuring my students and trying to alleviate their fear about the massive changes that they have encountered in less than week, I was gently reminded that our hope lies within our heavenly Father. I began to council them that all would be well, and that our school, the state, and all of the professors were working together to make sure this time of uncertainty would not hinder their coursework, or their graduation. I recalled reading a post on face book from one of my favorite children’s authors and began to provide them with examples and a comparison to the novel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which we are currently reading in our class. I have to give credit where credit is due. This wonderful children’s novel is one of my favorite Kate DiCamillo books, and was always a favorite of my students when I taught in the public school. In this wonderful children’s novel, the character of Edward travels on a long journey of uncertain events, new adaptations, and meets many new characters along the way. This heart-warming novel is also a novel of self-discovery for Edward, who grows immensely in many ways while traveling on this uncertain, yet miraculous journey.

I began to think about the journey that lies ahead of each of us, our families, and our neighbors. We are not on this journey alone, much like Edward wasn’t. I reassured them during this time, each of us needed to take time to rediscover and maybe even re-evaluate our principles, our religious beliefs, relationships, and our goals for life. I too, took my own advice and did a little soul-searching. I also realized that there will be days of uncertainty ahead of us, unanswered questions, and a menagerie of emotions that I, as well as others, will encounter. I also realized that I would have to be strong for my family, my children, grandchildren, husband, mother, my students, and my neighbors. I know that I cannot carry the load for all, but I can lighten their load a little, without increasing mine.

When my students began to think about the situation that we are facing and comparing the situations that the character of Edward faced, they began to delve deeper into the text, their fears subsided, and they were inspired that they would be okay at the end of this difficult journey, just like Edward was. I know, and they know, that life is not a fictional fairytale where a happy ending is commonly found. However, as a result of our comparison, our analyzation, and our discussion my students, as well as myself felt a sense of relief, accomplishment, and were inspired to take our newly found message out to others that God is still in control.

I encourage each of you to take the time that you have been given at home to love your family, yourself, and to dig deep into your own self-discovery. Re-evaluate your relationship with your family, yourself, and with your creator. Make this a time of self-discovery, new discoveries, and a time to love your family. Be strong and be there for them. Take time to read, study the word, and pray. This is a time more than any other time in my lifetime where prayer is warranted. Be the prayer warrior that others can rely on. Be the neighbor that can take a covered dish and leave it at the doorstep of your elderly neighbor, check on friends through social media, phone calls, or even FaceTime them, which gives allows them to realize that you are there for them.

Through all of the unanswered questions, uncertainty’s, and all of the worrying, I am reminded of a prophetic word that our church received quite some time ago. The words that were revealed to our church were simply, “preparation time.”

Members, as well as our Pastor, wondered if this meant a great revival, souls dedicating their lives to the Lord, preparing for the unexpected, or even still…all of the above. We, as a church, prayed for answers and prepared in a variety of ways. We have seen a spiritual revival break out within the hearts of our congregation and in our church, souls have been added to our church, and now we are facing uncertain days with many unexpected changes and unanswered questions looming over all of us, but we feel better prepared than we would have a year ago. We have been reminded that the Lord has been and continues to be with us, even in the eye of the storm.

I hope you enjoy this post. Feel free to comment and or follow. Wishing you a safe and wonderful Memorial weekend and day. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Winter in the Mountains

Winter has arrived full force in the mountains of Kentucky this week. Just when the countdown until spring has begun, winter rears it’s almost unfamiliar head. Winter can be rough in the mountains, and we’ve had our fair share of rough winters, but considering our winter weather for the past few years, we really can’t complain. During the past few days we’ve transitioned from sleet to, rain, back to freezing rain, and now snow. I feel humbled and blessed that I am one of the fortunate people that can work from home and do not have to travel. Because of my blessings, I feel compelled to check on others, pray for those that have to travel, the first-responders, homeless, and the elderly. It’s during times like this that I appreciate my mountain roots, heritage, cultural ways, and the knowhow of how to survive hard times such as those that we live in today more than ever.

The ice is clinging to the trees in the mountains.

With winter weather also comes the desire to cook, which I think is a cultural thing as well. As far back as I can remember when snow started flying in the air, laying on the ground, and filling the trees, someone was cooking. Cooking what? Veggie soup, chili soup, pinto bean better known in the mountains as soup beans, and always a side of cornbread. This was only a few family cavities! Some may think that vegans and or clean eaters can’t enjoy tasty dishes or cultural meals. However, being a clean-eating vegan doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice flavor or my favorite foods. No, I still enjoy savory meals that I’ve always enjoyed, only a healthier version of them.

So, what’s on the menu for this bitter cold and blustery day? Organic soup beans, cooked in the insta pot without oil, but with plant based beyond bullion base. This great tasting base also decreases the amount of salt that’s needed to flavor many dishes. I use this base when I saute mushrooms, I add it to soups, beans of all kinds, and more. I’ll bake cornbread for my husband and plan to make myself roasted potatoes. I discovered along this high-starch journey I could line a sheet pan with parchment paper, spritz the cubed potatoes with vegetable broth, season them and cover them with aluminum foil and after they’ve reached the desired tenderness, I place them for the final minutes under the broiler and allow the potatoes to crisp up. What I discovered is that the potatoes are crispy and tasty. I also occasionally place them in the air fryer, spritz and season, and air fry for a faster dish of roasted potatoes. To add to the deliciousness m, I’ll add a side of sour kraut, which I canned last year, and maybe a skillet of mustard greens stirred up with diced mushrooms, more of the vegetable base, and finally a crumbled tofu to replace the scrambled eggs. This is a supper that is mountain worthy, culturally acceptable, vegan friendly, and filled with starches and high-powered greens. The only thing that makes this dish better is a jar of my canned red tomatoes chilled and served on the side. An all clean, organized, healthy, and tasty on this cold snowy day!

A great source of seasoning that adds a lot of flavor!

Eating vegan, plant-based, and healthy does not mean that you have to sacrifice flavor, culture, or deny your family who doesn’t follow a vegan diet. What I have learned along this journey is most of the time my husband doesn’t realize I prepare the mustard greens without oil, without eggs, and limited to no salt. He still brags on the taste, reaps the reward of less oil, and salt, and also that he loves sauteed portabella mushrooms. He still indulges in cornbread, but often made with less oil, egg replacement, and almond milk. The bread is still tasty, and he eats it without complaining about lack of flavor, but often brags on how tasty it is. Many times we think we need more salt, or we need to add a splash more of oil, or some other fat, when in reality we just need to focus on the flavor of the food…not the seasoning. One of the greatest benefits he has discovered is that a plant-based diet is much better for his gout, which is an entirely different post for later.

Snow and ice fill the trees and the mountains.

For now, I’m off to put beans in the insta pot, grade assignments, tidy the house up, and catch up on a little reading while snuggling beneath my favorite quilt in my favorite chair. I am so thankful for a warm home and knowing that my family is safe at home. I will also enjoy my favorite coffee, the spectacular view of the snow-covered mountains that lies just beyond my windows, and all the comforts of home. Blessings from the snow-covered mountains of Kentucky. I have found that in an impersonal world filled with more struggles than I can recall, a high-tech technology world where social media has replaced much of the personal communication that we once cherished, not to mention the uncertainty of the pandemic, I cherish the simple things in life more than ever before.

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Finding Joy During Uncertainty

It’s been a while since I have posted. I’ve been working on this post for a few weeks, but kept encountering interruptions, or starting over to find the right words, and still just setting it aside to work on later. Sometimes I’m not the best at multi-tasking. I have been in a routing of focusing on what needs to be done first, which often results in me neglecting my blog that I enjoy so much. Life has been very different since the outbreak of COVID. We’ve encountered many changes along the away and have had to learn to adapt, and in some cases still adapting as it seems every day brings about new changes and a new, or resurrected sense of uncertainty. I, like many of you, have gone through a roller coaster of emotions with the changes and devastation that have occurred in our world within the last year. My emotions ran amuck from fear and worry to joy, and so the cycle continued for weeks that turned into the months. However, all change that has occurred in my life hasn’t been a fearful change, or a change that came with a dread. No, life is not perfect, nor will it ever be. But, change can bring a freshness, personal growth, and also time to rise up to the challenges, goals, or tasks that we’ve put on the back burner far to long ago. It’s time to find beauty in the ashes!

A peaceful time of prayer while admiring God’s creation.

The way we socialize, shop, worship, educate, vacation, and even dine out have all encountered changes in one way or another. However, I was reminded several months ago of the words given to me by a previous boss. Things were continually changing with the district where I taught, and if you are an educator, parent of school-aged children, or work in the public school system, you know about change. He simply stated, “change is good.” He further explained that we could take what felt like an uncomfortable change, a scary journey, or a dread and turn it to our good, and to our student’s good. Shame on me! I had neglected the wise words from a long-time friend from many years ago. Why had I not used those same words and applied them to our situation today. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying that this wicked virus is good by any means. But, what I am saying is that with all of the changes we’ve encountered…also came time. Time, that I seemed to lack when life was rushing by so quickly. It was time to rediscover and renew my prayer life, my creativity, bring a sense of newness to my classes, encourage and bring hope to our students, and bring hope to our family.

These changes would occur one day at a time, overcoming one obstacle at time, living in the day and being thankful for the time that I have. I would not waste time sitting and worrying, wondering about what the future held, when would all the sickness end, or when life would get back to normal? Key word here is, life. I was reminded that I was allowing life to slip away, right before my very eyes. Think about it, for those old enough, it seems we turn around and twenty years of our lives have vanished. We’re left asking ourselves questions such as; What did we do with those twenty years? Were they spent feeling sorry for ourselves, living in constant fear, complaining, spending far too much time on social media, which by the way will deplete our joy, if we allow it to. Or were days, months, and or years spent doing things that we love to do? Were we spending time bettering ourselves through meditation, prayer, reading, breathing the precious air that we have been gifted, spending time with family, or cherishing the life that we have been given?

Through this journey of change, I was also reminded wise words of my pastor’s wife shared. During one of the most difficult times in her life as she battled for her very life of having diverse diseases the doctors thought would take her life, she had a profound encounter with the Lord. While feeling down and or discouraged one day, she felt the Lord express the following question; are you going to sit there and die or get up and live? I have pondered this question many times since then, and actually asked it of myself, and asked others who were going through a rough time. Some might find it hard to believe that the Lord actually speaks to us, but let me say my friends that the Lord has a way of reaching us through His word, in our thoughts, a gentle breeze, kind words of others, in the lyrics of a song, in dreams and in many other individualized ways. It’s about believing and being willing to receive what He has for us that is so very important. It’s what we do with what He says, whether it be directly from Him in a still small voice, a prophetic word, that gentle breeze that stirs when we need reassuring, or from a bold statement such as my pastor’s wife and friend encountered. Fast forward, my pastor’s wife was healed over twenty years ago, and today is one of the busiest women that I know. But, she’s not too busy to neglect her duties as a pastor’s wife, a friend, a mother, grandmother, her career, and her sincerity as a prayer warrior.

Be strong, be bold, be steadfast, and together we’ll brave the storm.

She has shared those wise words with our church and myself often. In the early fall I was reminded of those words just when I was tired of being down-trodden, tired of living in fear, tired of doom and gloom, tired of negativity everywhere I turned, tired of feeling isolated, tired of politics, tired of what seemed like endless changes, tired of so much sickness, and simply tired of being tired. Her words resonated with me one morning as I sat quietly pondering the events that lay ahead of me. I was now teaching full time at home, advising from home, shopping from home, and doing almost everything from home. I needed a positive change. Was I going to sit here and die or was I going to get up and live. I whispered a quiet thank you Lord, for the gentle reminder that I wanted to get up, I wanted to live and make the most of the day that I had been given. I began to count my blessings. I counted the smallest and largest blessings. I found it difficult to count them all. I felt inspired to write them down. Anyone that knows me, knows I have a passion for journals. Quickly, I found just the right journal from among the many blank journals that I had stowed away in my office. I would make a gratitude journal. The pages were filling quickly, my load seemed lighter, and I felt a sense of control and positivity returning. I found that by writing and recording my blessing daily, it was more therapeutic, it was real, it was a reminder of the blessings that were being overlooked and shelved like a competed novel. This was an area that needed to be revisited daily, relived, and an area that needed to be a focus of a dark time in our world. There is light in the midst of the storm, there is hope, there is joy during the crying, there is God and He did not deserve to be shelved. Rereading the Bible daily became a time of joy, a time of learning, re-learning, and a time of connections. Seeking out new inspirational books to read, books that were filled with joy, hope, happiness, and testimonies of triumph became beneficial and an inspiration that I have been able to share with others. Making time to pray, meditate, and sometimes just sit quietly and reflect on the goodness that surrounded me, rather than watching the news, or browsing social media, became an even larger part of my daily routine, and one that I found myself looking more forward to every day. It was time to get up and take back what seemed to slowly be fading from my view. I was reminded that as long as we have breath, we have hope, and without hope we can’t have faith, and faith is what moves what feels like mountains. Faith will sustain us and help us overcome.

For me, preserving and finding and making time to do what I loved, to write, cook, create, spend time outside, read, prayer time, socialize, even if it’s by phone, or zoom, care for others who may be hurting, and simply counting daily blessings, brought joy during the times of uncertainty. No, life is not perfect, yes, changes are still occurring, and yes the virus is real. We have family and friends who have suffered the cold and vicious symptoms, some still battling the side-effects, and others who have lost their lives to this horrible disease. But, through it all we have had family who have overcome and won the battle with the virus, who have lived to help others, and who have become stronger in their faith as a result. We must find a positive in the negative and remember that change is good. The change that I have encountered through it all is a closer relationship with our savior and a new appreciation for the simple things that are too often taken for granted. I have learned to step back and count my blessings and recount them. I have learned to make time when we often say we don’t have time. I have decided to live by the wise words given to my pastor’s wife, I choose to get up and live rather than sit down and die physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Life is precious. I choose to make the most of it every day, even through the changes of uncertainty. Remember, no one can rob you of your joy. Happiness is a daily choice. I choose to dance in the rain, and find beauty in the ashes.

I’ll leave you with two book suggestions.

Love is Real written by Adam Reid. This is a book that will forever change your mindset and your life. Also, When Women Pray, by TD Jakes. This is a book that allows you to connect to the lives of prayer warriors in the bible, grow spiritually, learn how to persevere, and how to get up and keep living, even when life is hard and uncertain. Both books have made a profound impact on my life and helped intensify the desire to get up and live even more than before.

God bless each of you! As always, thank you for stopping by my blog. Feel free to leave comments or feedback. I love to hear from my readers. FYI…upcoming is a new recipe that I have been working to perfect. My family has enjoyed it thus far. If you love lemon, you’ll enjoy my new lemon trifle. I hope to post the recipe soon.

Making Memories in the Mountains…

Hello from the mountains of Kentucky! We’ve had a couple of beautiful fall-like days in Appalachia. It almost feels like fall with temperatures in the upper seventies! I’m not complaining, this is perfect weather for outdoor activities, porch sitting, and for picking and canning beans.

Fourteen quarts of green beans picked and canned this morning!

I enjoyed the morning yesterday with our oldest granddaughter working up beans that we had picked from the garden. It was a memorable morning for both of us. We enjoyed small talk, reflecting on different things going on our lives, sharing fun-filled memories, and also our dreams and some of our future plans. I love days like this. It reminds me of my days as a young girl sitting on the front porch of my mamaw’s little grocery store. We would string green beans to hang dry for shuck beans, or as some prefer to call them, leather britches. We also sat countless hours breaking freshly picked beans for canning. These were experiences that helped mold me into who I am today and memories that I will forever cherish.

Rows of vining beans on fence from our garden last year.

As we sat working up the beans yesterday, i couldn’t help but allow my mind to drift back to a much simpler time…a time when days seemed to be forever long, summer vacations were the best, hard work was appreciated, porch sitting was welcomed, and families actually talked to each other… face to face! Those were the days prior to personal technology (AKA cell phones) and also days that make me long for those simpler times! I recall sitting for hours on the old bus seat or wooden ladder-back chairs helping my mamaw work up her beans. I never remember saying I was bored or complaining about helping. I enjoyed helping and also working the produce from our garden, even as a kid.

I loved spending time with my mamaw, and also hearing the stories of her youth, and when her kids were growing up. She would talk about the importance of putting away/canning enough food for winter and for what she called, hard-times.

I also thought about the days we spent on our back porch with our mom working in freshly picked cabbage. She would divide the big heads of white cabbage and place a half in a large bowl for me to chop. I loved having the job of chopping cabbage with the sterilized open ring of the empty cream can, and then gradually graduating to using a grater, only after she was sure I wouldn’t lose a knuckle.

I worked along side my mom as she would fill the sterilized jars with beautiful white shredded cabbage to be pickled into delicious sour kraut. We enjoyed the fresh kraut immensely with soup beans, AkA pinto beans. The heat from working outside didn’t bother us or deter us from our mission whether it was work or play. We were not accustomed to air conditioning and often went outside to seek refuge from the heat inside our house. Some of my fondest memories of summer and summer vacation are playing outside, playing hide and seek in our papaw’s corn field, making club houses in the barn, and playing in the creek. Regardless the heat index or what the thermometer read, we enjoyed playing and having fun outside!

Our youngest grandson running through the rows of young corn.

I can also remember as a kid pondering on the words that I had heard my mom and both grandparents speak of. Hard-times, I wondered what they were, when they would arrive, and why would canning hundreds of jars of beans, cabbage, and corn help us when hard-times arrived. I thought canning, drying, and preserving was just something that everyone did, what we were supposed to do.

I didn’t realize that many times in my youth we were actually living in those hard-times that my mamaw and papaw spoke about. We always had plenty to eat, a full root cellar or pantry of canned goods, which included fried apples, peaches, beans, corn, jams, apple butter and more. Today, I am thankful that I learned from my mom and grandparents how to garden, can, preserve, and how to plan for and also to survive and make it through real-life hard-times.

I recall in our youth, and in our own children’s youth relying on our pantry of dried beans, canned beans, baskets of potatoes we dug from our garden, corn from the freezer, and many other goodies we put away. I learned early on in our marriage that when the primary source of income comes from coal mining, pink slips and lay offs were inevitable. Unfortunately, we also learned that unemployment insurance barely met the bills. This was when I truly learned that having a well-stocked pantry of preserved and canned food helped families to survive those real-life hard-times.

Our garden early in early spring.

But, more than anything, I learned from my mom, grandparents, and experience that God will always provide, and He honors hard work. I’ve also learned that planting and working the garden as a family creates many cherished memories, provides nourishing healthy food for our entire family, supplements the weekly grocery bill, and also ensures that an Appalachian tradition of gardening and preserving is still handed down from generation to generation and remains a way of life.

Our oldest grandson hoeing young tomatoes in late spring.

I hope you have enjoyed my Appalachian memory and a small part of my heritage. Feel free to leave feedback. I enjoy hearing from my readers. For now, God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!